FTG 0019 - Rebuilding the Block with Entrepreneur & Future Med Student Zelnnetta Clark ‘19


This episode is a great listen for prospective students looking to apply to Penn State and are considering one of our Commonwealth Campuses, first-generation Scholars, Scholars & potential Scholars already at a Commonwealth Campus, Scholars interested in entrepreneurial ventures, be it for profit or not-for-profit, and Scholars planning to apply for medical School.

Guest Bio:

Zelnnetta Clark ’19 Abington is the co-founder of a 501c-3 non-profit called, RebuildtheBlock Corp. based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. RTB is committed to supporting and educating Black entrepreneurs in Black communities where there has been a historical lack of access to educational, financial, social, and economic opportunities due to systemic racism. Before creating RebuildtheBlock Corp. in 2020, Zelnnetta previously worked within the behavioral health field. She earned a BS in Psychological and Social Sciences with Honors from Penn State Abington in 2019. While working with RTB, Zelnnetta is currently applying for medical school. Zelnnettais also happy to speak further about professional development, how students may further develop important skillsets while still in college, and how to time manage while a student. Please feel free to connect with Zelnnetta at www.rebuildtheblock.org, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebuildtheblockcorp and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/zelnnetta-clark-18904a172); they are always looking for companies and organizations to partner with. One mind. One business. One block at a time.

Episode Specifics:

In this episode, Zelnnetta shares her insights on:

  • Deciding on Penn State as an out-of-state student and choosing a campus other than University Park for the small community and class sizes
  • Finding unique majors at Penn State that are not available at University Park
  • Applying to and succeeding in the College as a current Penn State student at a Commonwealth Campus
  • Achieving academic excellence AND being a student leader as a Scholar at a Commonwealth Campus
  • Overcoming the intimidation factor with the honors thesis, especially for Scholars who start after their first year
  • The value of setting milestones in the thesis process and learning professional skills while completing the process
  • Pursuing post-Baccalaureate programs and hustling with a variety of gigs in the gap years before medical school – including turning down offers that are not the right fit
  • Taking action to correct causes you’re passionate about by starting a non-profit
  • Advice on starting a non-profit or other entrepreneurial ventures
  • Suggestions for applying to medical school from someone living the experience right now and thoughts on taking a gap year(s) before applying
  • Overcoming self-imposed limitations
  • The importance of time management in college and in life beyond for pursuing multiple passions  


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Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Doheen, class of two thousand and eleven and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. This episode is a great listen for prospect of students looking to apply to Penn state and are considering one of our Commonwealth campuses, first generation scholars, scholars and potential scholars already at a commal campus, scholars interested in entrepreneurial ventures, be it for profit or not for profit, and scholars planning to apply for medical school. Zellnat a Clark, class of two thousand and nineteen, is the CO founder of a five hundred and one c three nonprofit called rebuild the block corps. RTB is committed to supporting and educating black entrepreneurs and black communities where there has been a historical lack of access to educational, fine ancial, social and economic opportunities due to systemic racism. Before creating rebut the Block Corp in two thousand and twenty, Zonnetta previously worked with the behavioral health field, ch earned herbs and psychological and Social Sciences with honors from Penn State Abington in two thousand and nineteen. While working with RTB, Zonetta is currently applying for medical school. In this episode, Zonetta shares her insights on deciding on Penn state as an out of state student and choosing a campus other than university park for the small community in class size, finding unique majors of Penn state that are not available at university park, applying to and succeeding in the college as a current Penn state student at a commoal campus, achieving academic excellence and being a student leader as a scholar at a commol campus, overcoming the intimidation factor with the honors thesis, especially for scholars who start after their first year, the value of setting milestones in the thesis process and learning professional skills while completing the process, pursuing post baccalaureate programs and hustling with a variety of gaids in the gap year before medical school, including turning down offers that are not the right fit. Taking action to correct causes you're passionate about by starting a nonprofit. Advice on starting a nonprofit or other entrepreneurial ventures, suggestions for applying to medical school from someone living the experience right now, and thoughts on taking a gap year before applying, overcoming self imposed limitations and the importance of time management and college and in life beyond, for pursuing multiple passions. With that, let's dive into our conversation with Zonetta following the Gong. Zonetta, thank you so much for joining me today here on following the gone. You have the distinction of being our first graduate from a campus other than university park on the show, so congratulations on that. I'm excited to finally get a campus grand on here. I want to start off with, how did you come to attend Penn State and specifically, again as our first campus graduate, the Beautiful Abington campus that is just outside of Philadelphia? Good morning, good morning, thank you so much for having me Abington. WHOO whoo. For me really it was actually pretty unconventional, I am not gonna lie. Being a first gen student, I didn't know where I was going going to go. I didn't know much about college. It was kind of like pickin shoes. So for me, my God brothers actually attended a school in Philly and I wanted to be closer to home because leaving home was a big deal for myself, for my mom, she was freaking out when I got when I was talking about going to California and you know, when you're in that application process, you kind of disguise a limit. You want to go anywhere, and I was okay, let me play it safe, let me go far but not far enough, and I was like okay, my God brothers in the school in Philly. So I'm like, I don't want to go to that school because I don't want to follow the tradition because all my God brothers went there. And Penn state just kind of kept saying to me it's about flying. I was just like, you know what, it's Penn State, like the network is awesome. Why wouldn't you do why wouldn't you want to go to Penn State? Small problem. I could not handle being in a class of a concert, you know size class, and I was just like that's going to be too big for me. And then I came across Abbington. I didn't know that, and a lot of people don't know even when I'm talking to them about Penn state now that there's so many campuses, and Abington was really in the middle of everything, like it's right there next to Philly, and I love phillies diversity. So I really chose Abington because of...

...the location. And then once I visited the campus, it the campus. It just blew my mind. It boom my mom's mind. She's like can I stay here with you? And also seeing like the landscape, because it's built on a hill, and the buildings. There's not many buildings. I'm like someone who's a little lazy and this is not is not physically fit. I was like this is perfect, but also I'll be getting my workout in every day walking the classes so really just getting that feel for Abington by attending the doing attending a tour really made my decision and just really like the convenience of the location you park. I was like maybe I'll transfer to you park, you know, at like after sophomore year, but Abington they got me. They were stuck with me through the full four years. So, and for those of you who don't know what I'm sure you could probably rattle this off. To PENCA AVINGTON was originally Penn State Ogns, and it has a long history as the ogns women school. I think you can claim Amelia earhart as one of your alumni on the campus and it's so it's a beautiful old property kind of settled right in the middle of a neighborhood. So if you are ever in that area, stop by and check it out, get a picture at the lion shrine there. And speaking of unique things of the Penn state, Abington is your major? So you majored in psychological and Social Services and to my knowledge we don't offer that at any of the colleges here at you park and I don't know if any other campus offers it. So can you talk about what that program is and why you picked that one. Absolutely. So originally I was looking, like I previously mentioned, to transfer to you park. Originally my major was more of the pre neural psyche major because I wanted to be premed and get those science prerequisites done before applying from med school. However, just way shreier's kind of works, especially at smaller campuses, I not to give it away. I decided to say a declare my graduation two thousand and nineteen. So if you're in shriers and you declare a major, I mean your graduation a certain time. That's when it's expected for you to graduate. So once I was looking to transfer, something happened with credits whatever, and I ended up saying Abbotson, which was I'm glad that happened. So then my major had to change because abaton did not offer the nose I program and I was like, well, I don't I want to make sure I get my shries credits because if I try and do the science classes require from med school, that means I'm not graduating in two thousand and nineteen. And I'm like, as an honor student, to work so hard. You're like no, you you want to finish when when necessary. So you can get that credit accreditation and then also you get your you know, your award, your little award. So that was really important to me as well. So I chose psychological and social sciences and really but that major is is that general psychology knowledge, you know, the study of human behavior, but it takes the two steps further where you're taking general sociology classes and then once you get over like I would say freshman, so from your after taking those general classes, you can dive deep into other types area sociology, like I did sexuality and Gender Study. And I think just my journey in college, just like I said, being a firstgen student and just learning along the way, it was really beneficial to me as someone who's now outside of well, someone who has great postgraduate because it definitely changed my outlook on a lot of things, on life, or it get gives you a different perspective because you're understanding human behavior, but you're understanding how society influences those human behaviors and why people do things, such as conformity for for example. And it was a really interesting perspective and I think that's kind of what trailed me into a lot of my passions. That I do now outside of Undergrad. So it's a really good major because you're not only getting that psychology portion, but you're Gett into sociology and I'm like, I don't even know how they bridge two different disciplines into one to get one major. So it definitely is something that I really appreciated them putting a program that appreciate them putting together because definitely has influenced my thinking vastly as an adult now in the workforce. So I also started at a Commonwealth campus and for those of you who are listening who are maybe those high school applicants and you're looking into the college, take a look at our campuses. There are some really unique majors like that that only exist at a campus like altoona's railroad engineering or the psychological and social sciences at Abington, and there's a pletthor of other great options at our campuses that you should check out. Obviously you kind of had some dual decisions going on your your in your second year you're working on transitioning to you park. Sounds like it doesn't work out quite right for you, but it's also about the time you were probably applying to get into the Honors College at a campus? How did...

...you go about that process? What how did you first learn about the Shrier Honors College? How did you go about applying? What was that process? What recommendations do you have for students who are at a campus and maybe considering following the same steps that you did? Great Question. Um, like I said, my college ex fan was very, very unconventional and, as I previously alluded to, I did not matriculate into striers right after high school. I did not apply for striars after high school or during high school. I apply for Striars, I believe, sophomore year and I matriculate into shires junior year. So definitely that's what influence like the transfer kind of being shaky because at that point I'm already a junior. And really how I got interested, got introduced to striers, was a colleague of mine who was also a part of a club I was heavily involved in, which was called to me outreach workers cow and we would just we spent so much time. You know anybody who is involved in student engagement, you know how much time you spend out on campus doing on work outside of you know, your academic, academic work, and we would spend countless of hours just kind of planning the club, because a student led and she was like Ze, you know, she's talking about some of her assignments for honors. Caught her honors, excuse me, courses, and she's like, you know what, Z, can't you help me with this? And I'm like, I'm not an honor student, I don't know how to do this, and she's like, but you know what, Z, you're like, we are in all the same classes to you, are in the same major, and she's like, you know what, Z, you're so smart. I why are you not a part of shriers? And I'm like what is that? What is shires? And she told me a little bit more about about the honors program and I think she matriculated from High School Into College Trier Student, and I immediately for me, I was kind of elated that she told me about this because I've always been that student that always wanted to challenge myself. I'm very inquisitive, so I want to know everything and anything if I can. So for me it was like, you know, I went through high school, I took honors, I took ap even though I had no business, taken biology. If it was not ready for that, but I took those type of courses and I wanted to challenge myself in college. And the fact that shriars had that opportunity where, even though I didn't apply, you know, freshman year, I didn't get in freshman year, the fact that I can apply throughout the years was pretty awesome because a lot of I don't know, but I feel like a lot of schools don't have that opportunity. So once she told me about I did my research on striars. I wasn't timidating intimidated about the thesis, but we'll get into that later. But I was just like, you know what, this is going to challenge me and this is going to make me a better professional. I aligned with the mission. I love the mission, especially when it's talking about, you know, civil engagement, silver service. I think that's super important, and schools mission. So as soon as she told me, I did my research, I just applied and it was a pretty simple application. I mean, obviously, every any application, you have to work diligently on what you want, on your responses and, you know, make sure you're the best applicant possible or that you can be. But other than that, it was pretty it was pretty simple. It was stressful because I really, really really want to get in, but I had so much support at Abington that I was able to talk to the head of shriers at Abington and even though I wasn't a stuer student, he was giving me pointers on how I can, you know better. My application tell me a lot more about the program itself, especially for paining to Abington, and then also pertaining to bridging resources from you park to Abington, and I was just sold from there and everyone's really supportive in my decision and it made it such, so much easier to just go in kind of not knowing too much, like as a like I said, as a junior, like I at first I had jitters because I'm like, I'm a junior and these people have been a lot of my classmates, of colleagues. They've been in striers his freshman year. I have to play catch up, I have to learn how time manage again, because my classes were going to be fairly different and there was going to be more expectations. But everyone's so supportive and I just love the fact that the program was able to provide that for me as a junior so well. I'm glad it all worked out that you graduated with honors and you're here talking to me today and for those listening, whenever you're listening to this now, you mentioned a group that you were involved with on campus. Can you talk about both what you were involved with it adding to maybe you can talk a little bit more about that specific group in any others and also just trying of the general what is it like to be an involved student at a campus other than university park, because I think there can be a little bit of a different culture around that between you park and our commonal campuses. I lived at firsthand. You did too, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Absolutely so. One thing I loved about Avington was the fact that any club possible was student led. We obviously had advisors to really mentor US and push...

...us in the right direction, but it was all student led and I love that because, looking back at my experience, it helps so much as a professional and it helps with professional development because you could do project management for any type of company you know, even if that's not your field of expertise, because you have led a whole like a whole club by yourself, but not by yourself bout with students really helps you with that professional development. Funny Store and how I got involved in commity outreach workers. My freshman year I was super anxious about just school college. I was really that kid who was really into their studies. I believe it or not, you can ask my roommates if I would be in my room for eight hours on the weekend studying and if it wasn't the weekend, during the weekdays I would be in the room, door closed, studying. And I really didn't understand that social and academic. You know, you need to have a social life and you need to have an academic life and you have to have that balance. Did Not know type of balance whatever. Everything is about academics, academics, academics, because I was so worried about out my keeping my grades up. I'm like, this is college, like this is a big deal. I don't know, you know, I don't know what's the expectations of still trying to get a feel for everything. So, with that being said, I did not get involved with anything and I think it wasn't until sophomore year when I was just like, you know, I'm miserable, like I am miserable. I could, honestly, the way I studied. I could probably recite my biology book. Textbook were from word and I and I was just like I need to find something else to do besides, like I need to get the full college experience. It didn't help that my roommates were kind of the same way, because we're all freshmans trying to figure it out. So they were kind of same way. So we're all timid to go just explore. But advots. It was a campus where, I kid you not, every single day there was something going on for the students to get involved in. A Martin Luther King Day. I think two thousand and sixteen, I'm dating myself, my goodness. I seen on a think a newsletter or something, I think on the AVINGTON website, basically saying a day of service. And for me I was someone as a high school student who was always involved in community service. So when I seen that they were doing some mort Luth King Day, I was like, you know what, I'm going to get involved and it's my day off. Why not? It happened to be community outreach workers and we ended up going to run intercity philly and we ended up kind of renovating a church, like cleaning it up, painting the walls, really just helping this church like get it get going, essentially because it was a little I needed some work done, basically, so we helped with that and we even helped with we even help they had a movie night after we did the renovations and we had basically participated in the movie night and we got the kids like popcorn, we made the popcorn and stuff like that, and I was like, this is the type of club and a type of stuff I'm used to doing and I want to continue doing as a college student. And immediately from there I was sold. I mean I was really grateful for this opportunity working with cal because it really made me find my home outside of my home. I'm so used to being home in new Europe that I'm a New York native, and I was able to find my niche, like I said, outside of my niche and in Philly. So like even now, when people talk about Philly, I'm like people think I'm a native, that I'm not, but I'm like, I'm not mad. So, you know, and the people in the club were so supportive and so open and so welcoming. And then I just really got involved in student led organizations. That also helped out with planning of thon a little bit. BSU I was involved in as well. So and everyone's so close knit because we're so used to working together. We're always trying to do partnerships with each club and because, you know, we spend so much time in. I forgot, I think it's the Lions Dand I believe we spential most time in. They're trying to plan our clubs and plant so it was just like it was a close niche family and I just love the fact that Abington has so many opportunities for students to get involved. Like there was not one club that like there was a club for everybody and if you said, oh, there's not a club for me one, you're probably fitting. And too, you have every opportunity to create a club, which is amazing as well. So there's there was something for everybody, and creating the club wasn't even like when I asked friends, because someone did. I think it was like an African student union. She created that on our own and she told me the process is pretty seamless because you had that support there. So it was really awesome just to have that support at Abington with the student led clubs. So just a quick editorial note for those of you who are you park folks. I'm assuming that Z the lions den is a kind of multipurpose common room space. You're shaking your head. Yes, yes, in in your main building, not to be confused with the bar here in State College. So just want to want to throw that out there for those listening. No, not the bar. So earlier you mentioned you saw...

...the thesis requirement when you were doing your research on applying as a current student to the college and it was a little intimidating. But obviously you're sitting here talking to me on following the God, which means you completed your thesis. So I'd love to hear not only what you wrote about but also how you overcame that intimidation factor and kind of went through the process. I think for me personally, going into as a striar student, as a junior and you only have like what junior year? Senior your left, and by senior year like half a senior, you need to be finished of your thesis. I was like, Oh man, where did I get myself into? And I'm looking at my colleagues and well, my cohort and they, like I said, they all started, I had, believe, freshman year, and I'm like you guys had two years ahead of me, like someone, give me some point. If someone help me, please advocton provides support. So we took classes that were not like our honors classes, which was very interesting and I really appreciate now. I remember sending some of the courses. I was just like, Oh, why am I learning about Hemingway? But now I'm a Hemingway Fan, so thank you. Some of the courses that we took were like really curated to just research writing, knowing how to use the Penn State Library and how to find articles and stuff like that. I think it was like two courses I took where one was really just strictly how to use the Penn State Library, which helps tremendously even after college, essentially, and then I think another course was more so it was the same way. It was the same way. So we had courses that would help us with the thesis essentially, and we would meet every week or every other week and they we would have the professor check in our progress, which was really good because it definitely helped with the accountability, because you're really doing this project on your own and although you have deadlines, really those minor milestones to complete this project is on you. So just having that accountability definitely helped, because I remember times when we would come in class and everybody was like scrambling to make sure they had everything done because we knew that our professor would access questions about our thesis. If you didn't know it, you would feel a little embarrassed. So having that accountability was really good. And then really in general, a lot of the professors, well, like for me for psychology, they were familiar with stryer. So for us we had a honors advisor and then we also had our major advisor because probably wherever you were do whatever, you were doing your thesis and would be primarily in your your major. So my my psychology advisor, he actually knew about try so he knew the expectations, he knew kind of what my thesis need to look like at the end, how to edit it and all that good jazz. So that was really helpful as well. So my thesis was on perception and sensation. It was called hearing the vision. So really me, I am someone who's really involved in any way. I can help any type of community, disadvantage community. So my project was really on a broader scale. was looking to help those of a visual impairments kind of see their world, but like here, their world right because they have visual parents, so hearing their world. So essentially what we want to do, the goal was to create some type of device that would help those are visual impairments kind of here objects in a room. Now it's very super abstractive because we worked of engineers. They created a device and basically the device would have certain sounds for certain shapes. So then we would have psych students come in and we would teach them like a training on how to discriminate between the sounds and the shapes or the sounds for each shape, and then we would test them and see if, like the shape kind of all want the sound aligned with the shape that they were trained on. And that's kind of how we were seeing if people were able to distinguish between the shapes, and that's how we're able to test sensation and perception of these students. And then eventually we actually were trying to work with I forgot exactly what the institute was called. Those at Institute for those with visual impairments and and do this project a step further with those of visual impairments. Unfortunately, our results that not come out as expected because it was so abstracted. And then also like, when we think about it, the people that we were testing, the participants, they didn't have visual impairments, they know what certain shapes look like, and then trying to explain that to someone of the visual impairment, especially if they were born blind, it's a little bit more difficult. Like how do you how do you describe the color read to someone who's never seen it? So we kind of had a debrief on that and we decided not to move forward with the device for those are visual impairments because there was much more research we had to get to. There's no much more research that had to be done, but essentially that was my thesis. Is a very interesting because it also taught me about intercommunication and communication between different disciplines. So like...

...sometimes my my advisor and I, we would be on one page because we are thinking like psychologists, and then we're trying to relay or communicate to engineers and they're thinking like engineers, and you don't even realize how that interaction is super different and you have to change communications. So definitely help my communication skills because I had to change my communication and I had to ensure that whatever I was relaying was comprehensible and that, you know, it made sense to the engineer. So that was my thesis. Really it was really fun. It was really different experience for me. You just heard some great advice from our scholar alumni and completing the honors thesis. A great resource that we have here in the college is the thesis Boot Camp. If you're a scholar in your last semester, you will have gotten an email from debora rodgers, our coordinator of academic advising and services, about this program the thesis boot camp is an opportunity to have quiet, dedicated space for you to write your thesis. The benefit is that you will be surrounded by other scholars who are in a similar place and you can lean on them for advice and support during this process. College staff will also be there to help you answer questions. College staff will also be there to help answer questions about the process, formatting and other questions that you may have about the unders thesis. With that, let's get back into our conversation here on following the Gong. Now, in addition to writing your thesis last semester of College, most folds are concerned with what's that next step? Is it graduate school, professional school or likely, trying to find a job? Can you talk to us what your first role was right out of college and how you went about securing that? So my first role was I decided to pursue a postback program at loyal and Marymount University in California. Essentially, before I even apply for a post back program, I'd even know that existed. It was just me just kind of talking to friends that were in the premed or pre dental track and you know, I was just in a dilemma. I was just like, you know, I need to finish my my I need to finish graduating two thousand and nineteen because I want to get my shriers credit. You know, we worked hard for it. I doubt that's something that I want to do. And I was like, but also that means I'm delaying my matriculation to medical school because I won't be able to apply because I don't have the courses needed. So my friend actually told me about post back program and I decide to apply, apply to other places locally. But me as a person, I love to travel and who doesn't want to like try living in California? So I was just like, you know what, I'm Ana go for it, and once I got accepted, I was just like I'm going to Calleigue, like Callie dree and in. But prior to that, I actually was looking at neuro psychology graduate programs and I wanted to do a huge shout out to Dr Benfield, who actually he spoke so highly of me to one of his colleagues at a university, I forgot exactly which one, and they actually reach out to me and offered me a spot as a PhD candidate for a neuro psychology program and it was like a tough decision because it was a full ride and everything. I didn't even apply, I didn't take a gre E and it was an awesome opportunity, but I had to think to myself, well, I'd be satisfied in this career. You know, I didn't even get a taste of what neural psychology looks like because I did not go to you park and experience that major, and I always knew I want to go into medicine for sure. So I was just like this is a great opportunity. You know, I it's kind of the easier decision and, like I said, I like to challenge myself and I said, you know what, I'm going to take this extra step, even if it's going to take me longer. Patience is a virtue. I'm going to pursue medicine. So I decided to move forward to the post back program and I did the Post Post back program for about a year and a half and with the post back program I was also working. I was a Chemistry Teaching Assistant My nonprofit. Will get into that later. I was always just a student who was used to just working. Even in senior year, I mean as I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, I did work into a work in my field. So I worked into behavioral health as a personal care assistant, working with those on the spectrum at a school, sup school setting. I also worked at Ruby Tuesday as a server and then I also worked as a peer advisor. So I was used to kind of managing time and I was just like, whatever I set my mind to do, it's doable. Like I proved to myself, I was able to do a senior year. So here I am. Well, certainly sounds like you were grinding and you alluded to this and I'm what I want to dive into now is you started, along with some other friends and colleagues, a nonprofit called rebuild the block. Can you talk about what drew...

...you all to start that, what it does and what you're hoping to achieve with it? Absolutely so, we're build the blocks started in June two thousand and twenty. My old college roommate and I. So this is when I was in California and she was still in the Philadelphia area and when we are roommates. Before I even get into that, we always talked about when we're in the height of our career, as we always pride ourselves would be in leaders. So we're like, when we're in a height of our careers and we're leaders and pioneers in our careers, we definitely want to do something to give back to the community. The community has done so much for us. She's not a filly native, but like the same situation as mad people think that we're philly days because we talk so highly about this area and how this area has taught us so much and have helped us grow as adults and professionals, and we're like, like you know, we want to get back to the community, but we need to have certain resource Ne Dad the finances, we need to at the time, maybe we need to have the credibility, etc. So we always talked about it and you know, around you two thousand and twenty kind of like height of covid. We're just seeing how much covid affected just about everyone, but specifically black black business owners. You know the Philadelphia area has a lot of black businesses, black wealth, and just seeing how down they were because of this financial burden of covid. Everyone, especially those mom and pop shops that don't know how to they're not they're not online or they're not virtual yet because they may not have the resources to do so or they may not know how because they're a little bit older. Just seeing how that has had affected them. and down on top of that, just seeing the civil unread the response to civil unrest after the passing of George Boyd or the murder of George Floyd. They were seeing businesses in Philadelphia experiencing property damage and that just hurt our heart too. Because it's like not only are these businesses struggling financially, now it's like we're adding an extra like, you know, an extra kind of, I'm going to say bomb, essentially on top of what they already have to go through. And just thinking about the history of how much it takes for a black owner to kind of start up their business is as much more are than some of their other counterparts. So just seeing that was just like really heartbreaking. But Alexis and I are really big on we can talk all day until our phrase is certain blue, red, whatever cob we color you wanted to be. What are we going to do about it? And she was like, you know what, I'm tired of people talking. I'm tired of seeing these depressing posts on social media. Everyone's just all the talk. Let's do something about this. And she's like, how would you feel if I made a go funny page for, and this was before we had a name, go Fundi page for these businesses? And I said, you know what, that'd be a great idea. I'm like, I don't know what's going to happen. She's like, okay, we're just going to throw a number out there. We want a million dollars. I was like, you know what, that's fine, we'll just throw that out. We don't know what's going to happen. And really people receptive to our message. You know, they were receptive with us just being actionable, taking that initiative to do something, and people just donating. We had businesses from overseas, businesses to just like creating like a like merchandise and they and they would use their proceeds and donated to us and it was just like, oh, people are really a receptive to what we're doing. Like people just want somebody kind of a pioneer something, and from there we just receiving tremendous report, excuse me, support, I believe two weeks or a week and we made a Hundredzero and then it was two hundredzero and I was just like scratch in my head. I'm like this is amazing, but, Alexis, I do not need the irus coming for me. So we're going to have to come some type of organization in and we decided to go with the nonprofit and from there that's where we're build. A block was born in we're still up and running. I think that is just tremendous that you in an era of a lot of talking, decided to take some very concrete action. So I hat that I'm not actually wearing is off to you. Now you decide to start it nonprofit. How did you like into the very quick rundown, because I know it's a complex process, but just like some quick hits. How did you actually like go about doing that, because that sounds like something a shriyer scholar listening might want to do themselves for something that they care about. Absolutely. So we've started a nonprofit. The biggest thing is one get a team, even if you have a team of friends and family, that's the most important thing. Like Lisa Ry, she talks about when she started her production. She brought everybody that was kind of on the same level as her and brought them up, and that's kind of what we did. We were like, I don't know any professionals in the field of nonprofit. I don't know any professionals in the field of X, Y and Z, but I know that my friends and family will be supportive and they were very knowledgeable in whatever sector we put them in. For rebuild a block, but starting a nonprofit process is definitely holafey. But for anybody who wants to...

...start it. Think about starting at LLC. Really you want to have that mission. So what's your mission for us? We want to make sure that we are, in general, just creating generational wealth for the black community and we're starting that with these business owners and providing resources and bridging them with fresources. You want to have a vision, just a small, you know, statement of what you do. Couple, I would say, just a sentence long if possible. You kind of just really want to have a business plan because when you're applying for that nonprofit, they want to know where's the money going? What is your nonprofit known for? What are you doing? Are you you know, what areas are you covering? You want to have an address like that basic, like if you were to start up just any regular business. You want to have that basic information. So the biggest thing, I would say most important, have a team, because you cannot do it alone, even if it's a team of family and friends, get someone who is at least a little bit knowledgeable and the area that you're going to place them in. And secondly, have a business plan. That's going to save you so much time when you're doing anything with the IRS or applying to be a nonprofit, because they want to know this information and if you don't have it, you will get plenty of emails about, Oh, how do you do this? I would say. Lastly, one big one too, I almost forgot, is wherever you are going to register this nonprofit, look online for pro bono lawyers. That's going to help tremendous Lee, because we had a business plan, but I lawyer was like, okay, let me help and revise this, and that helps save you a lot of headache, heartache and time. So those are the big three things I would say. As you're talking, it definitely sounds like a lot of the advice for nonprofit is probably similar to a for profit entrepreneurial venture as well. In Our students in the honors college or very entrepreneurial. So is there any other advice from running it, now that you've started it, from running it, that you would want to share for students who are entrepreneurial, whether it's a for profit venture or a nonprofit venture? I would say the biggest thing is, especially if you're entrepreneur and you're anything like me, just do it. Just do it. For a lot of us we have imposter syndrome. And we tend to just kind of get in our head and say, Oh, I can't do this because I I am not confident enough, or I can't do it because I don't have the resources. Listen, I am I was a premed student, so I was still a broke college student and I raised two hundred thousand dollars. You have the power to do it. I'm very big on my saying is step into your power. Just do it, even when you don't know what's going to happen, and that's the beauty of entrepreneurship. It's a learning experience and that's why I love entrepreneurship because I'm someone, like I previously mentioned, I love to learn. Anything I can learn, I'm on it. So this journey is a journey and you're going to learn every step away entrepreneurship. There are going to be times where things are failing. That's part of the learning process. You learn from it. You know, my biggest advice is just really just start it, start it with intention and while you're starting it, just plan a little bit for a build a block. We started kind of as a merger to see model. We're just sick and tired of people talking and we're like, you know what, I'm tired of kind of just being in this position where nothing everyone's talking about it and nothing is getting better. I'm just tired of being depressed and seeing these things and, you know, there's no solutions. So, with that being said, we start as emergency model. We are still learning how to run a nonprofit, we are still learning how to be entrepreneurs, how to be cofounders, how to be business oriented people. So definitely take the time to plan, but being intentional with setting dates on when to get things done. I'm actually working on a new product where I'm trying to start on new business, so I'm learning that as well, where my imposter syndrome gets in my in my brain sometimes and it makes me a little bit hesitant. But I set dates. I'm like, this date, by this day, I need to have filed a LLC, by this day I need to file a trademark. So you are being intentional with while you're being while you have those dates and place, you are taking the time to plan. So the biggest thing is just do it, be intentional and ask for help. There's nothing wrong with acting for help and, like I said, even if you don't have the resource to do to if you think you may not have the resources to do certain things. Just your passion alone is what gets people to want to hear your story and get to people want to donate or give you a grant or give you a loan. There's so much resources out there where they're definitely accessible to you. So definitely look for them. And you hit on a common theme of the show that I think basically every alum who has been on here is said, is don't be afraid to ask for help, whether that's if you're in the college and you need help with your thesis or career services or you're starting an entrepreneurial adventures. So help is usually there if you asked for it. So I think that is great advice. So, on top of rebuilding the block and this hopefully soon to be able to be shared business venture. I...

...look forward to hearing more about that down the road. You are also applying for Med school, which is its own full time job. How is that going? What advice from somebody who's living it right now would you give to a scholar who's maybe, you know, a year or two away from that themselves? Biggest thing, like I said, is do it. You know, even when it when people tell you, oh my goodness, how are you going to be able to apply to med school while writing a nonprofit, and I'm using myself an example obviously, but how are you going to apply to med school? Take the mcat, run a nonprofit, be a chemistry teaching assistant, finished biochemistry in the summer. Just do it. Just do it and and also be be give yourself grace to because for me in my situation, I had to work. I also was working as a register behavior technician as well, and I had to work in order for me to fund kind of my med school application career, because, honestly, that costs a lot of money. But also, I would I would definitely say for anybody, because I'm learning this biggest lesson, if you have the resources, do it and you're able to do it. Focus solely on the mcat. Like focus solely on the mcat. That's my biggest that's my biggest advice. Another one big one is when you're when you are studying for the mcat, do a lot of practice problems. Review content as you're doing the practice problems, because for me, I was reviewing content my first half the studying because I study for six months and then my second half I was doing practice problems. But I recognize that I learned so much more when I was doing practice problems and then I would go back into the content because I'm looking at stuff I don't know and I'm diving deeper on like how, like I don't know this. How can I further understand this? And I made sure I understood it by the end of, you know, my study section. So definitely do that. But just in general, the process is very, very nerve wrecking. Give yourself grace. We have a support system, have a community of people who are kind of going through the same thing. I'm very glad that I was able to have friends that were going through the same thing and we would study together. have study groups to help keep you accountable. But you're going to need that support group, specially for someone who's as involved in meet as me. You're going to need that support system that understands kind of what's going on. Secondly, planning as well. You're definitely gonna have to play in your days. I still plan my days. Essentially, planning is something something that's going to be really important, really big. But, like I said, the biggest thing is give yourself some grace. Do it, even when people tell you can't, and you know, even if you don't get into the cycle you anticipate, it's okay. Like there's a video I seen, kind of Tick Tock and twitter, where they ast medical students. You Know How many gap years you take and some people sit five and something. You sit foreign and it's just like they still made it. There's still a seat at the table for you. As long as you're passionate and you're ready to be a physician. It's going to it's going to convey through your personal statement, your interviews and stuff like it. Just do it, no matter what someone says. The biggest thing they could tell you is no, and that's it. You keep trying. Great Advice and at this point I want to pivot to some reflective questions. You're obviously a young girl, Alumna, your recent graduate, but how do you feel like your experiences a scholar who graduated from a Commonwealth campus were unique and prepared you for your journey so far? I think kind of graduating from a Commonwealth campus definitely help with network game, because for me, I was afraid of going to you part because I didn't want to be a number. For me, I struggle sometimes with if I'm in a big crowd or in a class of a lot of students, I kind of just shy away from even making myself noticeable. I'm kind of like that person, I would say. I'm like that person is the underdog. I Like I'm the shadow work or like I work hard behind the scenes just to make you know the people that are being seen, make it happen, if that makes sense. So I definitely learned while being in a Commonwealth campus how to network affect efficiently and effectively because I made my name known, I made my work be known and it which definitely helps in a professional study social where you're a nonprofit owner, essentially our cofounder, because a lot of our funding comes from reaching out to the community, reaching out to certain businesses, corporate whatever type of businesses, schools, institutions, and I would say even for me, just having that close knit with Penn state definitely has helped create relationships and hopefully programs hit with, you know, the Penn state network. So definitely the Commonwealth camp has definitely taught me about networking. I think that's super important as and we asked me. Know, the pen state network is, my goodness, tremendous. So just attending Penn state period you're going...

...to get a lot more opportunities, for sure. Couldn't have said it better myself talking about the power of the Penn state network. So, Zee, what would you say is your biggest success to date? That is amazing question. I would say that this biggest success would have to be my child, a cave removal block, because, honestly, I think the common theme, you know, as we're listening to this, as you guys are listening to this, is just my life's unconventional. I just end up anywhere, like really quickly about me. I've moved from New York, went to school in Pennsylvania, I went to school in California and now I'm in Vegas, like who knows where he's going to end up next. But really was rebuild a block because I'd never in a million years imagine myself starting a nonprofit. I believe at the time two two and twenty three, or probably twenty three, and I was just like, I'm twenty three years old with a nonprofit who has over a hundred thousand dollars and I'm helping the community, like I'm making a real impact, and that was the biggest thing. My biggest kind of life goal is to be a healer in any type of sector, whether that's medicine, whether that's you know, I'm using my platform to help people community settings, look for build a block, etc. I just want to be a healer in general. So the fact that I was actually too able to make an impact that twenty three was just mind blowing to me. So that's really one of my biggest success stories because I feel like this thing that I thought would be a lifelong journey starts at twenty three. So I just don't limit myself anymore because I'm like what could I do? Like imagine what I'm going to do at thirty, since I'm always hidden thirty. Imagine what I could do at thirty. So I just don't limit myself and I definitely believe rebuild a block is definitely something I like to say divine intervention, because it happened at the right time and it definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things, like right now. For sure, it has pushed my I push my voice to be to get more into advocacy, like I right now I'm doing a project like an independent research project, where it's really talking about advocacy for women's rights. I'm also working with an organization where we do advocacy for social justice, Le Policies that affect black and brown communities and advocating for people to understand and know these policies and how it affects you know themselves and affects the community. So it really has pushed me in so many different sectors and I'm really grateful for that. On the flip side, what would you say is the biggest learning moment that you've had so far in what you took from it? Entrepreneurship is a learning journey and itself. So for me every day is a learning moment. Actually, I kid you not, I'm now learning how to use canva and now no one could tell me anything. So that was a learning moment. But I would say the biggest theme for me is really limitations. So, as I previously mentioned, again, I've never would have imagined myself being a cofounder of a nonprofit and I really imagine myself. When people ask me, where do you see yourself ten years from now, I'm like, I see myself being a neurosurgeon, and I still do, but I limited myself because I could take that a step further and say I see myself as a neurosurgeon who's also a leader and healthcare policy that is making changes within the healthcare system, or someone who is creating clinics for clinics and well disadvantage, look at socioeconomic areas. So I definitely with having rebuild a block coming to fruition. Essentially, I'm I don't limit myself anymore, and I think that's the biggest learning curve is there's no limit to what I can do, especially now, just looking at back of the things that I am doing and the things that have been doing. There's no limit. And and also what I've learned too, is everyone's story is different and unique, and my, I feel like my story is very unique and stop trying for me. I always try to put my fit myself into a box sometimes because I'm looking at my friends and they're in certain disciplines and they're, you know, they're incorporate and that's what they do, and then when people ask me, Zee, what do you do, and I'm like, and you know, I don't put myself into a box. I don't put I don't limit myself and put myself in a box, and that's okay. Isn't okay to be non traditional. I think that's what makes me me and makes me unique. So definitely be out you know, put yourself out there, and it's okay. If there is a path that you're being pushed to move through and that path may have not been something that has been done before, it's okay. Make your own path and I think that's super important. People need to learn, people need to appreciate because there's so much beauty and learning how to navigate that that path that no one has created before, because you're creating it. You're creating a path for other people to follow you. You've mentioned a couple people by name. I want to know are there any professors or friends from...

...your scholar days that you wanted to give a quick shout out to? Oh my goodness, okay, I guess. Let maybe let me go through a quickly. Dr Kathleen Fatigan, Doctor Benfield, Dr Ruth de Danca, Alexas Akarolla, my cofounder, and I'm probably going to miss a lot of other people in they're going to get me. Tracy read, Oh my goodness, she helps so much. She's actually involved in student engagement. But that's all I got right now and if I did not mention you, you know it's all love. So you've dropped a lot of great nuggets of wisdom throughout our conversation. Is there anything else that you wanted to share advice wise that did not organically come up in our conversation so far? So the biggest thing is for someone like me, I like to say I'm very multifaceted, and I would say you hear it all the time before you go into college, people are Act Pete, you'll act. You know what's something that I should learn while in college. You know what's the biggest hardships and you hear this Anto time, time management, but you don't understand how important time management is until you get into the workforce, or just even in college. Is Obviously it's obviously important, but the workforces it's a whole different port ball game. So you can still do as many interests as you want. Remember there's only twenty four hours in a day, but as long as you manage, manage time, manage efficient effectively, you could still be able to do those interests that you would you would excuse me. Even though there's only twenty four hours in a day, if you time manage efficiently effectively, you're still able to participate in any interest that you want. Someone like me, I like to say I'm very well rounded and a lot of different areas and because I time manage, I'm able to, you know, ignite my passions and be fulfilled by my passions because I'm still actively, excuse me, I'm still actively involved in them. I never want to live my life and say I wish I would have done this because I didn't. I didn't do it because I was focusing on that. I try to make sure I include everything in my schedule. But also another big key point is rest. Is Super Important to rest a self care. One new quote that I've been abiding by and I just never thought of it is our ancestor's biggest wildest dreams were to rest, and I think that's super important. To definitely set time out to rest, because if you are not right within, how can you, you know, give out essentially, so make sure you're resting as well. But definitely time management is a big thing, like executed while you're in college, because it's going to help you ten times more when you're postgraduate. If a sharer scholar wanted to connect with you and keep this conversation going, pick your brain further, what's the best way for them to get hold of you? So the best way would be linkedin. For sure. It's just my name. I think it's my full name, Zonetta's El and and Etta Clark. And our final question, as is tradition here on following the gone, if you were a flavor of Burkie creamer ice cream, which would you be? And, most importantly, as a scholar Alumna, why would you be that flavor? I love this question because one I did not get the honor to ever try that ice cream, but I was looking on the website side did my research. I would definitely be butter peakn. I mean this smores one was definitely a runner up, but I just feel like as butter Peakan, it's just so timeless, it's so classy and like everyone likes it. It just never ages and I just feel like that's just me. Well, you said you're in Vegas right now. Hopefully at some point you'll be able to get back out here to Pennsylvania and actually get to try some Penn State Burkie creamery ice cream. This is not sponsored by them, but certainly opportunity, if anybody there is listening. So that way you can have that last piece of your pen state experience, because I'm sure some folks are listening going what you've never had creamery ice cream. Hopefully get that fix for you soon. Do you mind if I add one more thing? Awesome. So another thing. We're both a block. I just want to promote were bold the block. We are looking for a business, partnerships, volunteers, anybody who is willing to get involved. That's something that we are always open to. So you can look us up on Linkedin at rebuild the Block Corp. You can follow our instagram at builth of Black Corp as well, and also our website at rebuild a block that or you could always volunteer on there. And I'm just going to leave you, guys, one quick quote, quote, because I felt like we talked about stepping into our power and initiating so this is a cool by me. Step into your power start creating a building for our own, because people like us, history has shown repeatedly that no one has will. So step into your power. Ze. Thank you so much for joining. I had a great time listening to all of your thoughts. I hope you, the listener, did as well. So thank you for joining us here today. I following the gone. Thank you, guys, for having me. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you...

...will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shure Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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